Pope Francis with a group of former prostitutes in 2016

Pope condemns this “vice” as “slavery”, “criminal”, “disgusting”, “torture”

Pope Francis has condemned the use of prostitutes as a “reduction into slavery, a criminal act, a disgusting vice that confuses love-making with venting one’s instincts by torturing a defenceless woman”.

Driving the news

The Bishop of Rome has written a preface to a new book on human trafficking, as Vatican News reports.

The book’s title, in English, is Women crucified. The shame of human trafficking as told from the street.

The book’s author is Aldo Buonaiuto.

The Pope praises this priest of the Pope John XXIII Community in Italy for his “precious and courageous work of rescue and rehabilitation” of prostitutes over the years.

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The big picture

In his new preface, the Pope reflects on his 2016 Mercy Friday visit to a community of former prostitutes in Rome’s Pietralata neighbourhood.

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“I ask forgiveness on behalf of all the Catholics and men of faith who exploited, abused and raped you”, Francis told the former prostitutes on that occasion.

“I didn’t think I would find such humiliated, afflicted and suffering women there”, admits the Pope in his new preface.

“Truly, women crucified”.

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For the record

In his new text, Francis says he was touched by “the moving and very human stories of these unfortunate women, some of them with their child in their arms”.

He says he felt the need to apologise to them “for the real tortures they had to endure because of their clients, many of whom call themselves Christian”.

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One level deeper

In his new preface, Francis condemns the fact that prostitutes represent for crime syndicates “an inexhaustible source of illegal and shameful profit”.

“A person can never be offered for sale”, he insists.

The Pope describes prostitution as “pathological”, a “disease of humanity” and “a wound to the collective consciousness”.

He says the use and abuse of women reflects “a wrong way of thinking about society”.

What’s next

“Corruption is a disease that does not stop on its own”, the Pope continues, calling on the Church and society “to raise awareness individually and collectively” about the scourge of human trafficking.

Freeing prostitutes “is a gesture of mercy, a duty for all people of good will”, the Pope adds.

“Individuals and institutions cannot remain indifferent before their cry of pain”, Francis insists.

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“No one should turn away or wash their hands of the innocent blood that is shed on the roads of the world”.

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